The West Virginia State Police operated for more than two years without written purchasing rules, after legislators in 2017 exempted the agency from state Purchasing Division regulations, a legislative audit released Monday concludes.
The lack of formal, written purchasing guidelines increased the risk of fraud, waste and abuse with agency purchases and bidding, legislative auditors said.
John Silva, director of the legislative Performance Evaluation and Research Division, said State Police were relying on verbal communication and institutional knowledge regarding purchasing and bidding processes.
State Police Capt. Shallon Ogleby told the Joint Committee on Government Operations and Government Organization on Monday that a written purchasing manual was completed and distributed to all employees earlier this month.
“We were, in fact, always adhering and abiding by purchasing guidelines. We just didn’t have them in writing,” she said.
Under the 2017 law, PERD was required to conduct an audit of State Police purchasing regulations this year, and the State Police must provide a report to the Legislature next year showing evidence of cost savings and efficiencies resulting from being exempted from Purchasing Division regulation.
Also Monday, the interim committees discussed, but did not act on, a proposed bill to expand a new law passed in July that eliminated a provision in state law that automatically disqualified applicants for professional and occupational licenses if they had criminal convictions.
Under the new law, licensing boards have to show a nexus between the crime and the particular profession or occupation in order to disqualify applicants. The new law does not apply to a number of professionals, including lawyers, physicians and law enforcement officers.
The proposed legislation would expand the law to include plumbers, HVAC technicians, and a variety of licensed positions in gaming and racing industries, including thoroughbred and greyhound racing, limited video lottery operators and retailers, Lottery Commission employees, and licensed casino employees.